Almost 250,000 people left London before the UK coronavirus lockdown came into effect, figures from Oxford University show.

Data shows that thousands flooded out of the capital toward other parts of the country before people were instructed to stay at home on March 23, with the majority going to the east of England and South East.

Local politicians and businesspeople in Norfolk, the South West and Wales had pleaded with wealthy second homeowners not to leave their homes to travel to the regions, fearing that they could bring the virus with them and put extra strain on local health systems.

Just two months ago, the U.K. was yet to see its first case of Covid-19. Now with nearly 20,000 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, Britain has transformed under an unprecedented national shutdown.

Gradually then suddenly, the government has implemented restrictions on the public in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus, including the closure of most schools and all restaurants and pubs. Under the strongest measures announced on March 23, Britons may only leave their homes for food, health reasons or work, if unable to work from home.

The U.K. government was slower to enact measures than its neighbors, with Italy, Spain and France announcing their lockdowns on March 9, March 15 and March 16. On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating in Downing Street.

Central London has emptied, with some activity still in more populated suburban areas, as seen in these images from Transport for London traffic monitoring cameras captured each day at noon.

But its pulse will never die.